Past and Present

Three Wichita State history professors, Drs. Robin Henry, Robert Weems, and Jay Price, will talk about Wichita history, parallels between current events and historical happenings, and how historical events got us to where we are today.

Past & Present is also available through iTunes. Listen or subscribe here.

This fall, a group of students and I participated in the Day of the Dead event at the Nomar International Market. We had with us a large, blown up map of the North End from the 1950s, showing all the individual houses, stores, and other structures. People could write on the map or put in pins with tags that showed what the given building was and why it was significant to them.

On Nov. 30, 1804, the U.S. Senate opened its only impeachment trial against a U.S. Supreme Court justice. The House of Representatives’ charges against Associate Justice Samuel Chase stated that his partisanship affected his decisions. While Chase narrowly escaped removal from the court, his trial placed the court’s impartiality into question.

Recent American history features numerous instances where U.S. Attorneys General recused themselves from cases where a conflict of interest existed.

constitutionus.com

While the ideals of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence hold true today, the mechanisms of those ideals were rooted in a specific time and place. The founding fathers created our system right at the tail end of the pre-industrial era. Most people were engaged in agriculture, travel was difficult, food, information, and defense were largely local, and worldly cosmopolitan perspectives were the privilege of the educated and wealthy few.  

On October 16, 1916, Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The clinic distributed birth control and advice and information on birth control and sexual health. Just ten days later, Sanger and her coworkers were arrested in violation of the federal Comstock Act and in defiance of Section 1142 of the New York Penal Code. Both of these laws classified birth control information as obscene and forbade distribution of information or birth control devices in person and through the mail.

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Wichita has a proud history of entrepreneurship. Companies founded here — such as Pizza Hut, Rent-A-Center, Beechcraft, Learjet, Cessna, and Koch Industries — have created thousands of jobs over the years. Yet, notwithstanding past accomplishments, analysts such as James Chung contend that contemporary business growth in Wichita is anemic.

ReverbNation

Last Sunday, a memorial service took place for Harry Dobbin, a member of the bands Sawdust Charley and the Funtones. He was also the graphic artist who made possible the recent book on Wichita rock & roll from 1950-1980. I still remember the work he did to arrange all the elements for the cover. Dobbin joins the ranks of so many Wichita rock figures who have recently passed.

On September 12, 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that states are bound by the court’s decisions and must enforce them, even if the states disagree. This decision in Cooper v. Aaron followed four years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that ordered public schools desegregated.

Today, Planeview and Hilltop Manor in south Wichita are reminders of a time when World War II aircraft production required the creation of workers’ housing. Designed to be temporary, these communities have lasted well beyond their expected lifespans. Aging facilities and changing demographics remain challenges for residents, landowners, and local officials.

Wichita, during the mid-20th century, was a city where African Americans were blatantly discriminated against in downtown commercial spaces. For instance, black moviegoers were forced in sit in the balcony of downtown theaters.

Another form of racial bias experienced by black Wichitans during this period occurred in downtown department stores. While local African Americans were allowed to purchase products from these businesses, they were not allowed to sit and eat at their lunch counters.

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